By Richard Clarke
Carl Jenkinson's short Arsenal career has already had a steep learning curve - and it is about to get steeper - but Arsène Wenger is confident the 19-year-old can make the ascent.
The right-back had only played eight games in League football before he joined the Club at the start of the summer. After a solid pre-season, Jenkinson was thrown into first-team action earlier than anticipated and, though the results were mixed, Wenger is backing his protégée to excel while Bacary Sagna is out with an ankle injury.
"He has top qualities," said the manager. "His fitness is outstanding, he's quick, he has good crosses and he is good going forward. He needs to adjust a little bit his defensive game. But we are working with him and he is improving.
"What happened to him so far is that he had good and less good games, especially the Man United game. But he had a good game at Udinese four days before.
"I just think when you start like that, you put so much intensity and focus in the games, that sometimes after that you're a bit flat."
Wenger indicated that Jenkinson is likely to start against Sunderland as Sagna begins an expected three-month spell on the sidelines with the fractured fibula he sustained against Tottenham a fortnight ago. However the manager insists the right-back responsibilities will not fall to just one player during that time.
"We have a few other opportunities," said the Frenchman. "We have a young boy in the reserve team [Nico Yennaris], we have Andre Santos, who could eventually play there. Koscielny could play there, Djourou could play there. Certainly in the next three months some other players will have to play right-back because Jenkinson cannot play all the games."Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source